Grooming, Nutrition & More: The Special Needs of Senior Cats
Aging cats are pretty set in their ways. They know exactly when it’s time for a meal and they draw from a cultivated collection of preferred nap zones. They expect attention at certain times, demand action for very specific reasons. In other words, they’ve got it all worked out.
Of course, the needs of senior cats can change as they grow older, and it’s up to us to figure out the best ways to provide for them. That way, they can enjoy every moment of their golden years without pain, discomfort, or illness.
Cats are living longer than ever before, thanks in large part to a higher level of owner involvement. In fact, when all of their needs are met, cats can live up to 2 decades!
Despite growing longevity, many senior cats do struggle with various age-related issues. From dental disease to arthritis, diabetes to kidney disease, there are preventative methods that can reduce health risks. Early detection also plays a critical role in the health of senior cats.
Another Set of Eyes
Veterinary support increases from one annual visit to two once a cat reaches the age of 7. This increased frequency allows us to stay in front of any possible threats to a senior cat’s health. While many age-related diseases cannot be cured, we can definitely manage and control symptoms to slow or thwart disease progression.
We can give you cat-specific signs to watch for between your senior cat’s biannual visits. Keep a journal and jot down your observations regarding their behaviors, sleep patterns, eating/drinking habits, and appearance.
Depending on your cat’s age and weight, we may prescribe a nutritional plan that boosts their overall health. Special diets for kidney health, weight management, diabetes, dental care, and more can truly sustain the needs of senior cats. Dietary modifications can improve their health, and our team is happy to discuss the proper ways to make changes.
Some cats may not show signs of the aging process until they are quite old, but there is typically physical dermatological evidence. With less elasticity and a thinner outer layer, the skin experiences less effective circulation and can be prone to infection. Senior cats are also known to groom themselves less, due in part to decreased flexibility and painful joints. You may notice matting, knotting, odor, and possible skin inflammation.
Also, take a quick look at the claws. Dry, brittle and broken claws are a common sign of aging.
Cat owners should be closely involved with their cats on a daily basis. We recommend grooming them often, checking for lumps and bumps, signs of pain, and any visible changes to the eyes, ears, and mouth. Brushing their teeth can greatly reduce the negative impact of periodontal (gum disease), and provides insight into baseline dental health.
Playing with your cat can also shed light on how they’re feeling. If they seem disinterested or it just hurts to move, it may be time to have them checked out.
The Age of Senior Cats
Our feline friends are hard-wired to mask any signs of illness or injury. By closely monitoring them at home and routinely examined at Blue Valley Animal Hospital, we can all do our best to ensure they are happy, healthy, and comfortable their entire lives.
As always, if you have questions or concerns please contact us. We are always here for felines of all ages, but we especially love senior cats!